DUBLIN – According to the largest-ever market research into fan trends and perceptions conducted by World Rugby, Africa is among the game's fastest-growing fan base with 32.7 million.
Africa is catching up to South America who have 38.2 million, with North America further ahead on 52.8 and Asia with 112.5 million fans.
Rugby Sevens is also hugely popular with Africa again drawing in the fans along with other countries.
Overall the global fan-base increased by 24 percent since 2013. Another indication of growth is that the average fan age is decreasing and female fan-share increasing.
Rugby has nearly 800 million followers globally, while more than 338 million consider themselves fans, with India, China and the USA alone constituting almost 33 percent of the population.
Published as the Rugby World Cup 2019 trophy tour visits India where there are 25.7 million fans of rugby, the research undertaken by Nielsen Sports paints a picture of a vibrant, growing sport that is increasingly broadening its global appeal.
The research, undertaken across 88 markets, reflects participation trends, with significant increases in rugby interest driven by emerging markets since rugby’s Olympic Games inclusion.
Of the 338 million fans, China and USA have 33 million fans, India 25 million fans and France 20 million fans, while RWC 2019 hosts Japan are in the top 10 fan-grossing nations with 14 million.
Sevens is a format that World Rugby successfully employs to convert new fans in the digital space, with its high-action, short, easy-to-understand, made for social media format resonating with younger casual sports fans, in particular, generating record video views.
Rugby Sevens interest has increased by 6 percent since its Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016
Across key emerging markets in Asia, North America, South America and Africa, 63 percent of rugby fans became fans after being inspired by shorter forms of the game.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: "World Rugby welcomes this study, which paints a picture of a sport that continues to attract new and younger fans globally.
African News Agency (ANA)